Jan. 16, 2019

NBAA’s Regulatory Issues Advisory Group (RIAG) has monitored the effects of the Pilots Bill of Rights (PBOR), and worked with Congress and industry to make any needed enhancements to the legislation. “The Fairness to Pilots Act, Section 392 of the FAA Reauthorization Act of 2018, makes legislative tweaks to the Pilots Bill of Rights, further protecting pilots and other certificate holders as originally intended,” said Paul Lange, an aviation attorney serving on NBAA’s Advisory Council and a former RIAG chair.

“A good example is an emergency certificate action,” said Lange. The PBOR doesn’t include a timeline for sharing its evidence, but the FPA “requires the FAA to provide its evidence, including all allegations of lack of qualification and falsification of records, in a timely manner.” This transparency encompasses the FAA enforcement system.

When the FAA issues an emergency order of immediate certificate amendment, modification, suspension or revocation, the certificate holder can request its investigation report. If the full report is not available when requested, the FAA must provide “the releasable portion” promptly and the full report within five days of its completion.

The report will not include privileged and security information, the identity of confidential sources, details reflecting “internal deliberative processes,” and “information the administrator can demonstrate is withheld for good cause.” The FPA also covers those notified of a proposed nonemergency certificate action.

If the FAA does not provide the report in the required timeframe, the individual involved can request dismissal of the complaint or other relief from the administrative law judge involved. If the FAA cannot establish good cause for not releasing it, the judge “shall order such relief as the judge considers appropriate.”

Before proposing the reexamination of a certificate holder, the FPA requires the FAA to provide a reasonable and detailed reason why it proposes this action. As it does for certificate actions, this report includes the prompt release of flight data information, such as ATC recordings and radar information. And the FAA must give the individual time to respond after receiving the flight data.

The FPA also modernizes the NOTAM system to “support a more realistic dissemination of critical safety information,” said Lange. Effective April 3, 2019, it precludes the FAA from certificate actions against pilots for violating NOTAMs until it certifies that it has complied with the amendments to the NOTAM Improvement Program.

This will create a public, searchable online NOTAM repository for original and amended content, including effective times of temporary flight restrictions and the duration of special use airspace. The FPA makes clear that it will be “the sole location for airmen to check for NOTAMs,” which will not be considered published until they are included in this repository.